Page last updated at 19:08 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 20:08 UK

Failed asylum seekers 'destitute'

Bed at a house run by the Coventry Refuge Centre
The charity helps asylum seekers find a bed for the night

Hundreds of failed asylum seekers in Coventry are "destitute" with many living on the streets, a charity says.

Bhopinder Basi, chief executive of Coventry Refuge Centre, said between 20 and 30 former asylum seekers were asking for a place to sleep every day.

Mr Basi said the withdrawal of vouchers for failed applicants was "cruel" and ineffective as people were remaining.

The UK Border Agency said its policy was sufficient to meet essential living need and it would listen to concerns.

However, Mr Basi said that many people who had their vouchers withdrawn were living on their friends' floors and sofas or on the streets.

"We are providing 50 to 60 food parcels a week, as many people are living on less than £5 a week or less than a meal a day," he said.

Payment cards

"The system is designed to be so cruel that it makes people want to go away, but it is not working because many would rather stay and be poor," he said.

He added that many of these asylum seekers were eventually given a positive decision which was also an incentive to stay in the UK.

The UK Border Agency said its policy was not designed for people who did not have a right to remain in the UK, but it would listen to any concerns.

A spokesman said: "The UK's asylum policy is properly balanced and sufficient to meet essential living needs."

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